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  #21  
Old 04-08-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

As has been noted, zebra mussels can filter huge amounts of water. However, this can (and has) resulted in dramatic changes in the lower Great Lakes. Some nutrient and sediment levels have dropped significantly which has resulted in profound alterations in Lake Erie, Ontario, and some portions of Lake Michigan and Huron. The increased water clarity has caused huge increases in macrophyte growth (shoreline owners call them weeds)in shallow areas along shorelines with consequent changes in the types of fish populations that are supported or damages by that type of growth. Walleye and perch populations are faltering in many areas due to lack of zooplankton which feed on algae consumed by zebra mussels. The carpeting of much of the lake bottoms by dead shells has eliminated suitable spawning areas in many areas of the lakes for fish that need that habitat. The altered lake bottoms have also caused native mussels and other lake species to disappear in many areas. Some fish species actually may be enhanced by the increased weed beds (bass).The cascade of impacts to the Great Lakes continues and is well documented. That's why many private lake associations and government agencies try to educate people to not spread them further.
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Old 04-09-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

crichard's comments are spot-on. If you don't currently have zebra mussels in your water body, you do NOT want them. Their impacts are far reaching and expensive.

As for direct impacts to sailboats: You'll be fine if you check your intakes, rudder post, etc. periodically and clear away the mussels that are trying to grow there.
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Old 04-09-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

They also are hell on native shellfish populations. Do you like your crabs, mussels, clams, etc on the Chessie? Better not play Freelance Environmental Engineer, then. Cuz freshwater shellfish in the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes are pretty much hammered.





Lots of trees don't make a healthy forest, and clear water is not the definition of a healthy waterway. If pollution is a problem, the answer is not introducing exotic filter feeders into the mix. The answer is to stop polluting.
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Last edited by bobmcgov; 04-09-2013 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 04-10-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

Are you making the argument that zebra mussels were introduced as a means to control pollution? Or did I misunderstand your point?

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Originally Posted by bobmcgov View Post
They also are hell on native shellfish populations. Do you like your crabs, mussels, clams, etc on the Chessie? Better not play Freelance Environmental Engineer, then. Cuz freshwater shellfish in the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes are pretty much hammered.





Lots of trees don't make a healthy forest, and clear water is not the definition of a healthy waterway. If pollution is a problem, the answer is not introducing exotic filter feeders into the mix. The answer is to stop polluting.
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Old 04-10-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

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Originally Posted by KIVALO View Post
Are you making the argument that zebra mussels were introduced as a means to control pollution? Or did I misunderstand your point?
I'll let them speak for themselves, but I didn't read it that way. I think they were refuting the suggestions by others to intentionally introduce them into certain waterway to help clean them up. However, the muscles don't discriminate, they will clean up the good with the bad and that's not good.
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

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Originally Posted by KIVALO View Post
Are you making the argument that zebra mussels were introduced as a means to control pollution? Or did I misunderstand your point?
Re-read the thread, Kivalo. Travelineasy and Benesailor, specifically, have suggested zebras should be intentionally (or surreptitiously) introduced into the Chesapeake watershed as a means of improving water clarity. As an alternative to costly cleanup and pollution management programs. Ahaahaa. Exactly when has intentional or accidental introduction of invasive species gone as planned? Dingos, rabbits, or cane toads in Australia? Rats and goats in Hawaii? Tree snake in Guam? Lake trout in Yellowstone? I suppose you could make a case for the earthworm and European honeybee in the Americas; tho the Africanized bee is the flip side of that.

Distilled water is very clear, too. Absolutely sterile, nothing lives in it, but lovely to look at. Much of the 'murk' you see in estuaries is called nutrients, and its what the entire food chain rests upon. Near-shore game fish populations in the Finger Lakes have been hurt badly by the zebra mussel; I know lifelong fishermen who quit trying a decade ago, because the fishing has gotten so poor.

Any excess Bay algae or sludge that results from human activity ought to be brought down to healthy levels. The way to do that is by attacking point or distributed sources of pollution. Start with your own behavior: you got a quarter acre of luscious, weed-free bluegrass turf in front of your home? How much nitrogen, phosphorus, pesticide, and herbicide you dumping on that baby every year? How much of that ends up in the storm drains after a hard rain? Multiply by a few million, and there's the cause of much of the Bay's murk. You willing to address that? Or do you subscribe to the "Take a pill, feel better" approach? Rather than changing our diets or exercising regularly, let's just pop a handful of Lipitor and shove a stent in there. Hand me another cheeseburger! Let's not re-think our approach to suburban landscaping -- we'll just gamble with the entire Chesapeake ecosystem instead. *sigh*

It's insane to approach behavioral or environmental problems by throwing invasive species at them. The human record in this department, dating back about 20,000 years, is one dismal, unmitigated FAIL.
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Old 04-10-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

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Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
No idea whether they are edible, but the average shell is the size of an eraser head. The meat inside must be inconsequential.
This is what wikipedia has to say on this matter:

Because they are so efficient at filtering water, they tend to accumulate pollutants and toxins. For this reason, although they are edible, most experts recommend against consuming zebra mussels
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Old 04-10-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

First and foremost, Zebra mussels were inadvertently introduced into the Great Lakes when ships from the Baltic Sea region pumped their ballast waters into the lake. At the time, which was more years ago than i would like to remember, Lake Michigan was a filth pit. The waters near Chicago were gray, underwater visibility was essentially zero, most species of fish were considered inedible, at least those that still existed. Most finfish populations were essentially wiped out by both loss of habitat and commercial exploitation. Yellow perch, which at one time were considered the staple of the Great Lakes commercial fishing industry, were so toxic that the consumption level for children, pregnant women, senior citizens, and those with serious health problems were advised to avoid them altogether. Walleye pretty much didn't exist in Lake Erie anymore, their population so low at the time that catching a legal size walleye in a day of fishing was considered a feat in itself. Brown trout, which is another invasive introduced by state and federal fisheries agencies, were thin, sickly looking, and often full of sores or lesions.

The zebras arrived, the water became clear, aquatic grasses emerged from areas of the lake where there previously was insufficient oxygen to support any form of life, yellow perch and walleye soon took up residence in the submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), and their populations immediately increased by huge numbers. Lake trout and brown trout sizes and populations also grew rapidly, and their overall health improved as well. EPA tests of the finfish population's toxins, particular those usually found in the fatty tissue just beneath the skin, revealed that previous toxin levels were once again in the safe to consume range. How could this be? Industrial polluters didn't suddenly shut off the discharge pipes into the lakes. There were no less people contributing human waste to the wastewater treatment facilities, and those facilities were just as outdated as they were a decade earlier.

Now, lets look at the spawning grounds. Where do most of the finfish of the Great Lakes spawn? Not in the lake - that's for certain. The vast majority of them spawn in fast flowing tributaries, locations where zebra mussels do not exist. In order for zebra mussels to exist they must colonize on themselves. They require slow-moving bodies of fresh water, lakes, and the mouths of larger rivers. The main reason there has never been a large colony of zebra mussels in the Susquehanna River is because the river moves too fast for them to colonize upon themselves - it's that simple.

If they do make it to the Chesapeake's upper reaches, which is doubtful, their chances of survival are slim to none. Diving ducks love to eat them, and guess what, we have lots of diving ducks that winter at the Susquehanna Flats. Additionally, they really don't tolerate salinity very well, though there have been some studies that claim they could tolerate levels reached as far south as the mouth of the Patapsco River, but it's doubtful. Blue crabs also love to eat them, but pollution and loss of habitat, coupled with overfishing by commercial interests, has just about wiped out the bay's blue crab population.

If you're worried about zebras competing with oysters and clams for plankton, well, first we would have to restore the bay's oyster and clam populations in order to have any competition at all. We have lots of plankton, though - much more than we need. There is more than enough excessive plankton flowing down every tributary to Chesapeake Bay to feed the entire zebra mussel population of the entire world, and still have lots left over for the oysters, clams, mussels, menhaden, bay anchovy, and all other plankton consuming species combined.

So, who are these so-called experts that claim the zebra mussels will destroy the bay's ecology? Most of the ones I've come across were state and federal biologists that were out looking for grants to study the effect of the zebra mussels - not experts by any means. Keep in mind these are the same so-called experts that claim if you give them more and more of your hard-earned dollars they'll clean up the bay. Yeah! Still be believe in the Tooth Fairy, too. The Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Program has been going on for more years that most of the good folks on this forum have been alive. During that time, the bay has increasingly become more and more polluted. Do you REALLY believe the tales these so-called experts have been telling you? Lets get serious.

Zebra mussels did one Hell of a good job of cleaning up some of the most fouled waters in the United States - the Great Lakes. They did it at no expense to the taxpayer, and they did it in less than two decades. If they arrived in Chesapeake Bay, and managed to survive the horrendous pollution, established viable populations, maybe, just maybe, they could cleanse the bay's upper reaches to the point where you wouldn't have to worry about eating finfish, shellfish, and crustaceans. Maybe the beaches of Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Charles, Calvert, Kent, Queen Annes, Talbot, and other counties bordering the bay would be once again open to the public. All those beaches are currently closed because of extremely high levels of fecal-colliform bacteria in the waters.

Lets see now, if the zebras arrived and cleaned the waters, we wouldn't need to be shelling out huge sums of money to fund the Chesapeake Cleanup Program, which is now well over $15-billion and growing. We wouldn't need a Chesapeake Bay Foundation to study the sources of pollution in the bay and educate the school kids about how to keep the bay clean. We wouldn't need to fund the EPA's Chesapeake Bay Division. We wouldn't need much of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Administration, which consists of a bunch of biologists that spend huge sums of money studying when the bay's fisheries collapsed. Those fisheries would likely recover on their own.

The bay's SAVs, which are a fraction of what they were just 50 years ago, would soon recover because when water clarity improves and life-giving sunlight reaches the bottom, those grasses emerge in all the traditional areas, thereby improving habitat for juvenile finfish and crustacean species. Those same grasses provide a significant portion of the winter dietary needs for migrating waterfowl. Those SAVs also improve the dissolved oxygen level in the bay's depths, locations where oysters and clams currently do not exist because of the incredible nutrient overload now taking place in the bay.

Yes, there is a drawback with zebra mussels - they will attach to any hard substrate, water intake pipes, pier pilings, rocks, etc... Of course, these are the same places where barnacles no longer seem to be able to survive, at least in depths more than 10 feet. That's because there is no longer any oxygen at those depths in mid summer. The same methods used to prevent barnacle attachment to these objects also works with zebra mussels.

So, for all you naysayers, those of us who reside near, and boat in the Chesapeake Bay, send those zebra mussels our way. We'll take em'. We would really like to see the bay's bottom once again, we would like to be able to eat the fish, clams, oysters, mussels, crabs, eels, etc.... We would love to see those SAVs clogging the rivers and the bay's shallows. I just returned to the bay from the beautiful waters of the Florida Keys. When I exited the James River into the bay proper and looked at the brown water I had to traverse to reach home I wanted to turn the boat around and head back to the keys. If you're old enough to remember to TV commercial about pollution where the American Indian stands on a hill overlooking an interstate highway with a tear falling from his eye, that's the way I felt when I returned to the Chesapeake.

Good luck on ever seeing the bay clean in any of our grandchildren's lifetimes - it ain't gonna' happen without the help of the zebras.

Gary

Last edited by travlineasy; 04-10-2013 at 08:01 PM.
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Old 04-10-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

Some of those little sh*ts attached to my speed transducer last summer... it said I was going zero kts all the time... not too much different from how fast I was actually going!
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Old 04-10-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

I didn't mean to imply that they should be introduced into another water system (it was more in jest). I would never intentionally introduce any critter/plant life into another system. Yes, clean up the neighborhood.

Zebra mussels have had a huge effect on the NYS water system. Good or bad. I believe it will be years before a true pattern will emerge to truly see how the ecosystem will stabilize.

That being said...... i remember the finger lakes and lake ontario during the early years of the zebra. The finger lakes have always been fairly clean. Lake ontario is much cleaner, impart because of the zebra. Oneida lake is actually kind of swimmable.

Yes, as a child i was told to throw my fish back. Now it's a different story.
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